June 5, 2007, Herald Sun
TODAY marks 40 years since the start of the Six Day War. We are told constantly that Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank is the reason there is no Arab-Israeli peace.
But this prompts an important question: If Israeli occupation is the cause of Middle East warfare, how come there was Middle East warfare before Israeli occupation?
On May 16, 1967, Egypt evicted a UN buffer force separating it from Israel and put troops on the Israeli border.
On May 22, it placed a blockade on Israeli shipping in international waters.
This act of war was accompanied by public declarations about driving the Jews into the sea. Syria began lobbing artillery rounds from the Golan Heights into Israeli villages.
For three weeks, Israel waited for the international community to intervene.
Empty words aside, they did nothing.
On June 5, Israel finally acted, striking Egypt and Syria. Despite Israeli pleas not to become involved, Jordan did just that, firing hundreds of artillery rounds from the West Bank into Jerusalem’s Jewish suburbs.
Six days later, Israel controlled the Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and the West Bank, including the Old City of Jerusalem, containing Judaism’s holiest site. Jordan had barred Jews from the Old City since 1948.
Immediately after the war, Israel offered the captured land, minus Jerusalem, in exchange for peace.
The Arab League rejection was definitive. No peace, no recognition, no negotiations with Israel, it declared.
SO, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242, which called for the same thing, land for peace.
Lord Caradon, who drafted Resolution 242, was clear as to whether Israel should withdraw from all, or only part, of the territories.
“Knowing the unsatisfactory nature of the 1967 line,” he said, he was not prepared to use wording in the resolution that would have made that line permanent.
So, what has happened over the past 40 years?
Israel has done its part by withdrawing from more than 90 per cent of the land it won in 1967 and offered more than 95 per cent of the remainder.
Israel’s immediate neighbours have abandoned trying to destroy the Jewish state by conventional means, but some aid terrorist groups that are still attempting to do so.
The Palestinians, not even mentioned in Resolution 242, were given numerous chances to develop a state, but instead inculcated a generation with a love of violence.
Glorified in schools and on television, most recently by a Mickey Mouse look-alike, who can be surprised at today’s internal bloodshed in Gaza?
Forty years ago, the Arab world rose against Israel in the spirit of secular Arab nationalism.
Today, Israel’s enemies unite under the banner of Islamism. This is the thread binding Sunni Hamas, Shiite Hezbollah and non-Arab, Shiite Iran.
Iran is developing nukes and promising to wipe out Israel.
Intoxicated by Iran’s violent rhetoric and the West’s lack of will in the face of it, there is a growing view in Middle East thinking that perhaps Israel can be destroyed.
Such thinking will only lead to more violence.
This anniversary of the 1967 war follows an Israeli report criticising successive governments for failures in last year’s war with Hezbollah.
The report highlights Israel’s weaknesses and suggests ways to fix them.
Israel is not about to be overrun, as many thought would happen in June 1967.
B UT Israel has well-funded, well-armed and well-trained enemies who believe in an inevitable, divine victory and a religious obligation to fight.
It is impossible to deter religious zealots so convinced of their divine purpose that they are willing to blow themselves up on a bus full of children.
Peace in the Middle East will only come when Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah respect the rights of others to live in peace and security, as demanded by the United Nations 40 years ago.
It was not Israeli occupation that caused Arab countries to attack in 1967.
Rather, it was their attack that caused the occupation.
The same refusal to recognise Israel’s right to exist is the reason for the lack of peace today.
BREN CARLILL is a policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council